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Breastfeeding has benefits for both mum and baby

NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are backing World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August) which aims to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that where possible, children should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. After this, giving your baby food alongside breast milk will help your baby to grow, but breastmilk is proven to be beneficial up to the age of two years and beyond.

Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mum and baby, and in the UK, more than 73% of mothers start breastfeeding. In Lancashire around 70% of babies have their first feed of breast milk, however by 6 weeks this drops to as low as 40%, this happens for a variety of reasons but what we know is that it is essential that mothers get the right support at the right time from professionals and the community around them.

Breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby - protecting them from infections, and also lowers the mother's risk of ovarian cancer. To understand a little more around how we in Lancashire can support more mums, babies and the whole community to benefit from breastfeeding take a look at our mission statement Feeding Future Generations.

Kirsty Hamer, Commissioning Lead – Children, Family and Maternity Services at the CCGs said:

“There are a few misconceptions when it comes to breastfeeding. It should not be painful or uncomfortable, and it is impossible to over feed a breastfed baby. You'll be visited frequently by your midwife and health visitor in the early weeks to make sure your baby is growing well, and they can give advice on your feeding technique and help support you and your baby through your breastfeeding journey.”

For local support and information visit https://www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk/feeding-your-baby and contact FAB breastfeeding support on 01254772929.

The National Breastfeeding Helpline (0300 100 0212) is available all year round from 9:30am to 9:30pm. Alternatively, sign into Facebook and message the Start4Life Breastfeeding Friend 'chatbot' for fast, friendly, trusted NHS advice anytime, day or night.

However you choose to feed your baby, new parents often have lots of questions. It's quite common to feel overwhelmed but if you think you might be depressed it's really important to talk to anyone – your partner, friends, health visitor or GP.

To find out more about the health benefits of breastfeeding, visit the NHS Choices website.

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